Wednesday, May 31, 2006

9 June: Boreham on Charles Dickens

The Veracity of Fiction
It was a great moment in the romance of this little world when, in the dusk of a Winter's evening in 1833, a lanky youth in a very antiquated top hat and a very rusty frock coat, dropped a carefully inscribed manuscript in a dark letterbox in a dark office up a dark court in Fleet Street. Charles Dickens, the anniversary of whose death we mark today, has told the story of that initial venture, and he describes the agitation that he experienced when he read that first sketch, "Mr. Minns and His Cousin," in all the bravery of print. Having purchased the magazine at a stall in the Strand, he walked, scarcely knowing whither, down past Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall, to the Houses of Parliament. "I turned into Westminster Hall for half an hour," he says, "because my eyes were so dimmed with joy and pride that they could not bear the street and were not fit to be seen there." That was the beginning of the most amazing literary career in human history.

The really notable thing about Dickens is the fact that he established so stupendous a business on so extremely modest a capital. He brought to his task no external advantages whatever. His childhood was spent in absolute poverty and his education was of the scantiest. But he was under no illusion about either his powers or his limitations. He knew what he knew, and he knew of what he was ignorant. He was too wise to attempt work that was beyond his talents. He possessed an unrivalled knowledge of English life and a perfect command of the English language. With this stock-in-trade he felt that something might be done, and, as all the world knows, he did it.

Fact Revealed Through Diaphanous Fancy
Dickens bought his knowledge of the world at a cruel price. His boyhood was a sordid and terrible affair. In a paper found after his death, he says that he could never bring himself to repeat, even to his wife, the horrors that he endured in those early days. His memories of the menial and disgusting tasks assigned him in a blacking factory were such that, to the last day of his life, the smell of blacking induced instant nausea. From this extreme of wretchedness and degradation, he passed later into the best society of the nineteenth century. Knowing life at both ends, he knew also every intervening phase. He saw humanity in every garb and from every conceivable angle. The panorama fascinated his hungry mind. Each detail fastened itself upon his memory, and, thrown into the melting pot of his vigorous mentality, assumed a new and striking form under the witchery of his vivid imagination.

In the delineation of his characters and in the development of his plots, Dickens is sometimes a caricaturist, but he is always something more. He is always the man of scintillating genius, penetrating insight, and broad human sympathies; he is always rendering articulate the heart throbs of the people; he is, in short, an artist in real life. Alike in his pathos and in his humour, his pages carry conviction; they ring with reality. As Dr. Compton Rickett says in his "History of English Literature," Dickens is the great storyteller of the common lives of the common people. "He is great because, though dealing continually with little worries, little hardships, and little pleasures, he made the dullest of lives in the drabbest of streets as enchanting as a fairy tale." He wove his wondrous web out of the stuff that dreams are made of; yet it was compounded of the very essence of flesh-and-blood actuality.

Reality Awakens Immediate Response
It is the unique achievement of Dickens that he has made his creations so familiar that they may safely be introduced in their own right. If a speaker refers to a character in one of the novels of Thackeray or Scott or George Eliot, they feel themself under an obligation to mention the book, or at least the author's name. But any man may refer to Jingle or Quilp or Squeers or Sam Weller or Bill Sikes or Betsy Prig without feeling under the slightest necessity to amplify the allusion. Indeed, the average audience would feel that the speaker was affronting its intelligence if, after such a reference, he laboriously explained that the citation was from Dickens. The characters stand on their own feet. We should immediately recognise Mr. Micawber or Paul Dombey or Uriah Heep or Bob Cratchit if we had the rare good fortune to meet one of them on the street. Or, to bring the supposition within the stricter limits of possibility, if one of the guests at a fancy-dress ball was to masquerade as Mr. Pecksniff, Jerry Cruncher, Mrs. Bardell, Smike, Oliver Twist, or Little Nell, he or she would be as easily identified by everybody in the room as if the guest had assumed the role of an eminent historical personage.

Life answers to life, as, in another connotation, love answers to love. For this reason, the work of Dickens met with immediate response and recognition. It took men a few generations to discover fully the genius of Shakespeare and of Milton; but, as soon as Dickens began to pipe, the crowd began to dance. Although he passed away at the comparatively early age of 58, he had made a fortune and earned a fame such as none of his literary predecessors had ever enjoyed. And when, on that soft June day in 1870, he died, a belt of genuine and profound grief girdled the entire world. It stands to his everlasting credit that he never once struck a really false note. Ruskin used to say that the amazing thing about Dickens was neither his pathos, which has never been surpassed, nor his humour, which was peculiarly his own, but his unswerving fidelity to truth. "The things that he tells us," Ruskin declares, "are always true. He is entirely right in the main purpose and drift of every book that he wrote. If you examine all the evidence, you will find that his view is the finally right one, grossly and sharply told." Thus Dickens stands as the representative, not only of English literature, but of English life; and since, to him, life was wonderfully sweet, he moved the hearts of all who enjoy life and find it good.

F W Boreham

Image: Charles Dickens

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

8 June: Boreham on Sarah Siddons

The Mission of Tragedy
Those who are interested in the rise, development, and ultimate triumph of the theatre will like to mark the anniversary of the death of Sarah Siddons, the greatest tragic actress of all time. The literature of the early 19th century is rich in references to the extraordinary place that Mrs. Siddons held in the hearts of her contemporaries. In some of the most outstanding novels of that wealthy period she figures conspicuously. In "John Halifax, Gentleman," for example, Mrs. Craik tells of the regal way in which the actress swept everything before her. And then she makes Phineas Fletcher refer to the lamentable event of which today marks the anniversary. "Well, she is gone!" Phineas exclaims. "Gone, like the brief three hours when we hung on her every breath, as if it could stay even the wheels of time. But they have whirled on —whirled her away with them into the infinite and into earthly oblivion! People tell me that a new generation only smiles at the traditional glory of Sarah Siddons. They never saw her. For me, I shall go down to the grave worshipping her still!" Tens of thousands felt similarly.

That is the pity of it; no triumphs are so ephemeral as.those of the stage. No laurels fade so quickly. The actor quits the scene, and nothing is left to show for it all. When an architect dies, his plans remain; the buildings that he designed stand as their perpetual memorial. An orator leaves his speeches to posterity and an author his works. A statesman writes his autobiography on the Statute Book, and his achievements are elaborately marshalled by the historian of the period. But the telling gestures and clever inflections of the actor pass like shadows. In order to discover the difference between the eloquence of Pitt and the eloquence of Gladstone, or in order to compare the poetry of Virgil with that of Wordsworth, one has only to drop in at the nearest library; but how are we to summarise the distinction between the acting of David Garrick and that of Henry Irving or between the peculiarities of Sarah Siddons and those of Sybil Thorndike?

Why Is Art So Enamoured Of The Tragic Note?
It is difficult to ponder a career like that of Mrs. Siddons without asking a particularly pertinent question: Is tragedy enjoyable? During the most crucial days of the war, there were many who protested against the constant appearance of tragic plays, tragic films, and novels that struck an emphatically tragic note. In times of great public anxiety and great public sorrow, these people argued, such dramas, books, and pictures should be ruthlessly banned. Life is so full of poignancy, they maintained, that neither author nor actor nor painter has any right to harrow still further our lacerated emotions.

Against this, however, it has to be remembered that, by one of the strangest factors in our human composition, sorrow is often an antidote for sorrow. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, tragedy has a real entertainment value. The life story of Mrs. Siddons proves it. Nobody who has witnessed a performance of the Medea of Euripides, Shakespeare's Macbeth, or Ibsen's Ghosts will doubt it for a moment. There were moments when, gripped by the stark horror of the terrible situation depicted on the stage, every person in the audience forgot everything and everyone beside. Explain it how you will, most people derive a vast amount of real consolation from the pathos of life. Women, it is averred, find infinite satisfaction in a good cry; and, although men are reluctant to abandon themselves to such delicious ecstasies of grief, few of them would deny that they have experienced a certain spiritual exultation in the books, pictures and plays that have brought a lump to the throat and moisture to the eyes.

Comedy Makes No Appeal To Broken Hearts
All through the ages, authors, dramatists and painters have revelled in portraying the saddest and most heartrending episodes of human experience. Nobody can visit our national galleries without recognising that the pictures that make the most profound and popular appeal are pictures like "The Crisis," "Breaking the News," "Anguish," "The Bush Burial," "The Pioneer," "The Widower," and "The Return of Burke and Wills to Cooper's Creek." But why? Why are the saddest paintings the greatest favourites? A similar problem confronts us when we turn from the galleries to the libraries. More tears have been shed over the misfortunes of Oliver Twist, Hetty Sorrell, and Jeanie Deans than over the miseries of any three characters in actual history; yet we do not regard Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Sir Walter Scott as our tormentors on that account. We rather love them all the better for having caused us such superfluous tears.

That peculiar law to which we have already referred ordains that our darkest and bitterest hours shall be soothed more readily by tragedy than by comedy. Art relieves our overwrought nerves, not with delineations of gaiety, but with delineations of grief. Sorrow is mocked rather than assuaged by laughter. This, and this alone, explains the effective appeal of the Crucifixion to the hearts of all men everywhere. Little children sit spellbound beneath the pathos of that tender yet tragic story. Old people turn back to it and quietly brush away a tear. The dying cling to it long after all other narratives have lost their charm. And strong men, bearing the burden and heat of the day, find it a marvellous incentive to goodness and a matchless spur to courage. It fits the human heart as a key fits its lock. The artists, whether of the proscenium, the studio or the desk, who know how to heal life's hurts and alleviate life's sufferings by the deft and skilful use of the tragic note, are among the greatest benefactors of mankind. It is very often from a portrayal of pain that the pain-racked derive comfort and courage; it is from the dereliction and darkness of the Cross that a troubled world draws strength and hope and the life that knows no ending.

F W Boreham

Image: Sarah Siddons

Monday, May 29, 2006

7 June: Boreham on Richard Blackmore

Roses and Romances
On the anniversary of the death of Richard Blackmore, it is curious to reflect that, in his own day, nobody took him seriously. He was a market gardener. It is true that having been educated at Eton and Oxford, he was called to the bar at the age of 27 and practised for some time as a conveyancing counsel in London.

But he soon discovered that a sedentary life was not for him. Assisted by a legacy, he bought a large block of land at Teddington, set up as a market gardener, and followed that line of things until his death, nearly 40 years later. He specialised in vines, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, and pears. He was particularly proud of his pears, of which he cultivated more than 600 varieties. And he outdistanced most market gardeners by having a stall of his own at Covent Garden.

His contemporaries saw him pottering about among his grapes and his roses and filling up his Winter evenings by scribbling some innocuous and sentimental stories; and it seems to have occurred to none of them that anything of permanent interest was likely to trickle from his uncouth pen. His critics were caustic, his relatives cynical, and his admirers half-hearted.

As he himself observed, a trifle bitterly, the kindest of the reviewers damned him with faint praise; the others saw in his novels nothing that would justify their publication. They never dreamed that a day was coming in which, as a result of Blackmore's writings, one of the most beautiful stretches of country in the West of England would be known as the Doone country, nor that, because of the interest aroused by Blackmore's novel, thousands of tourists from all parts of the world would explore that part of Devonshire every year.

An Author's Jealousy For His Less Popular Works
Blackmore hated to be introduced as the author of "Lorna Doone." He was jealous for the honour of his earlier creations, and was angry with the public for having lavished upon one of his works a disproportionate meed of praise. He himself thought "Clara Vaughan" and "Cradock Nowell" quite as good as Lorna.

Most people feel that the outstanding weakness of "Lorna Doone" is Lorna Doone herself. The novel is magnificent but the heroine is shadowy and unconvincing. We have to take John Ridd's word for it that she was exquisitely beautiful and unutterably sweet; the author never sets her before us in such a light that we behold her charms with our own eyes and feel our hearts capitulate to her loveliness. We fall in love by proxy. John raves about her as lovers will; and we are so intent upon him, so full of admiration for his robust and virile character, so absorbed in his thrilling adventures, and so solicitous for his happiness, that we are always elated when his love affair prospers, and correspondingly depressed when a fickle fortune seems to place Lorna hopelessly beyond his reach. But, all the way through, we are loving Lorna for John's sake rather than her own.

This is more remarkable, since, generally speaking, Blackmore excels at description, and could so easily have set Lorna before us as the most exciting and desirable of women. Description is a delicate and difficult art. Most writers make it tedious. But Blackmore's descriptions hold the reader spellbound. If he points to a house, you are curious to inspect its every detail. He invests his heroes and heroines with flesh and blood, and it henceforth seems incredible that we have not actually met them.

In many respects, "Lorna Doone" is without a rival. Every syllable is vivid, graphic, and so expressed as to be in keeping with the subdued excitement and moving atmosphere of the smoothly running story. In its pages Blackmore attempts and patiently carries to complete success a scheme of literary attainment that no other writer on a comparable scale, has ever had the temerity to undertake.

Modesty That Is Content To Blush Unseen
Turning to the man himself, Blackmore is described by those who knew him as proud, shy, reticent, strong, sweet-tempered, and self-centred—a somewhat incongruous medley. He revelled in his rose garden, his vines, and his strawberry beds, and was never quite happy in any other environment.

He loathed and abhorred social functions, revealing his true self only to a select company of staunch friends. Few knew him; but those to whom that priceless privilege was accorded, worshipped the very ground he trod. He attracted little attention. Blackmore and Ruskin were buried on the same day. All the world seemed to know Ruskin; to the multitude Blackmore was merely a name.

A tablet to his memory forms one of the adornments of Exeter Cathedral. It contains two tributes, one in prose and one in verse. The prose citation is a sentence from his own "Cradock Nowell." "He added Christian courtesy and the humility of all thoughtful minds to a great and glorious gift of radiating humanity."

And the verse:

Insight and humour and the rhythmic roll
Of antique lore his futile fancies
And with their various eloquence arrayed,
His sterling English,
pure and clean and whole.

It is difficult to determine whether the man himself or the products of his pen offer the more attractive field for study, but wise men will solve that problem by paying liberal attention to both.

F W Boreham

Image: Richard Blackmore

Sunday, May 28, 2006

6 June: Boreham on George MacDonald

The Making of a Citizen
It was on June 6, 1867, that George MacDonald completed the manuscript of "Robert Falconer." Of all MacDonald's sturdy characters, Robert is the most satisfying and the most memorable. He represents in his own person the indispensable ingredients of good citizenship? Robert was a giant in stature; but that was the least notable of his characteristics. There was something about his massive form, his lithe and upright figure, his open countenance and his lustrous black eyes that inspired confidence and even affection. He did not domineer, or lecture, or preach; yet he somehow radiated an impression of genuine goodness and drew to himself, by a subtle and indescribable magnetism, men and women who felt that the pressure of life was too great for them. On one occasion, Hugh Sutherland, the tutor who tells the story, was at his wits' ends. Instinctively he turned to Robert Falconer, who, by the magic of his towering personality, quickly ironed out his difficulties. All through the long night-journey that followed, the wheels of the train seemed to be beating out a sentence that Hugh had read in one of the ancient prophets: A man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind; as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. With life-like fidelity, the words seemed to present a full-length portrait of Robert Falconer.

They were intended so to do. They were designed, that is to say, to establish the fundamental qualifications of high citizenship. The first phrase depicts an enormous rock standing in the path of the oncoming simoom. Under the lee of this huge mass, a group of travellers, surprised by the storm, huddle together. They almost feel the immense boulder tremble as the hurricane beats upon its farther side. They see the clouds of hot dust sweep by on either hand; but under the protection of this granite shield, they are safe and calm and unafraid. The best citizen serves a similar purpose; Thackeray shows how. In his "Four Georges," he describes the degradation that overtook English life and manners during the reign of George IV, and then he mentions four men who, with their wives, set themselves to live their home life purely and sweetly and unselfishly in defiance of the ghastly fashion of the period. He sings the praises of Walter Scott and his Charlotte, of Robert Southey and his Edith, of Cuthbert Collingwood and his Sarah, and of Reginald Heber and his Amelia. These four homes stood, like the boulder in the desert, against the drift; they preserved a beautiful tradition which, in a later day, all men aspired to follow;. they set an example that others, taking courage, sought to emulate. And who shall say what this meant to England and to history?

Judged Not By Products, But By Capabilities
The second picture is a very different one. The ideal citizen shall be like rivers of water in a dry place. A dry place is not of necessity a desert. A desert is the emblem of sterility; a dry place may be the essence of fertility. Sir Henry Lefroy, the Premier of West Australia, used to say that if only an earthquake could smash the Australian continent, leaving a range of snow-capped mountains right across the centre, the streams of water pouring down from those glittering heights would transform the so-called desert of Central Australia into a vast wheatbelt. The point is that the Australian desert is not a desert at all in the African and Arabian sense. It is just a dry place. It needs streams of water, and, if it had them, it would rejoice and blossom as the rose.

As an emblem of the finest type of citizenship, the significance of all this is unmistakable. There are thousands of people whose lives produce nothing worth while, nothing of service, nothing of value to the community. It is not because they are inherently incapable of such fertility. They are not deserts; they are merely dry places. If the right influences were brought to bear upon them they would immediately respond. The ideal citizen—the man of the Robert Falconer type—will so move the minds and consciences and emotions of these passive people that they will produce the best of which they are capable. The world is full of deserts that are only deserts because no streams of water flow through them; it is full of bad people who are only bad people because nobody has taken the trouble to lure from them something better. They merely await the friendly touch of some good man whose influence upon them would be like rivers in a parched but fertile land.

The Restfulness Of True Gentility
The ideal citizen is, in the best sense of the word, a Gentleman. That is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from the third picture etched in the phrase that beat itself into Hugh Sutherland's brain in the railway train. A man shall be like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. The setting is neither the wind-swept desert of the first scene nor the burnt-up garden of the second. It is a rough place, a place of cliffs and chasms, a place where the going is hard and slow—a tiring place, an exhausting place, a weary place. And to those who find life a place answering to this description, the ideal citizen—the person of the Robert Falconer type—is like a cool shadow in which the tired traveller can find respite from the glare, rest from the fatiguing struggle, and quiet refreshment by the way.

Literature abounds in striking and eloquent symbol of the delicacy of gentleness—the gentleness of a gentleman. One writer speaks of the gentleness of the snowflake; another of the gentleness of the down on the breast of a mother bird; a third of the gentleness of the dewdrop. But nothing is as gentle as a shadow—the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. The snow crushes trees and buildings; the breast of the bird has been known to suffocate her offspring; whilst even the weight of the dewdrop imposes a strain on the strength of the tenderest blade. But a shadow! A shadow causes no feather to flutter, no leaf to rustle, no blade to bend. As he journeyed northwards in the train, Hugh Sutherland felt that this represented all that Robert Falconer had been to him. The incident portrays high citizenship as in a cameo.

F W Boreham

Image: George MacDonald

Saturday, May 27, 2006

5 June: Boreham on O. Henry

A Hoard of Cameos
Henry James once described O. Henry, whose birthday this is, as one of the greatest masters of modern literature. His subjects, James added, were treated with the skill of a Maupassant, and with a humour of which Maupassant never dreamed. O. Henry was once asked if he had read a certain sensational novel. He replied that he had no need; his own life was far more sensational than any novel could possibly be. A gaol-bird, an inveterate drunkard, and a man over whose transgressions of the moral code it is best to draw a veil, he outraged all the accepted canons of polite society. He was actually in prison, serving a sentence of five years for misappropriating the moneys of the bank in which he was employed, when he posted his first manuscripts to a publisher. His one title to our respect is based on the fact that he never gloried in his shame.

O. Henry's books may be searched in vain for a deeper note of pathos than the pathos of his own closing years. He spent them in New York. Everybody knew his sinister record; but everybody pretended not to know. O. Henry himself never, even in the most oblique way, referred to it; his most intimate friends set such a watch upon their lips that no hint of it was ever dropped. And so, although the grim ghost stood constantly in the midst of them, staring into all their faces and being stared at in return, they all affected ignorance of its presence, and behaved as though it were not there. In fairness to his reputation, it must be confessed that O. Henry was largely a victim of circumstances. He never knew a mother; she died when he was three. His father was an eccentric doctor who allowed his practice to go to rack and ruin while he grappled with the elusive problem of perpetual motion. The boy was left pretty much to his own devices. Through childhood and youth he followed his own sweet will, and, at 25, he eloped with a girl of 17. Both bride and bridegroom were tainted with consumption.

Receptive Mind Enriched By Colourful Career
O. Henry deserves to be remembered. He may never be numbered among the immortals; but in the high art of telling a capital story in a few words he has never been surpassed. He is a master of miniatures. In a way, fortune strangely favoured him. His life was crowded with out-of-the-way experiences and extraordinary adventures. If, after having been where he went, and seen what he saw, he could not tell a few thrilling and diverting tales, to whom could we look for such narratives? At the age of 18 his health was extremely precarious, and he was ordered South. He settled on a ranch in Texas. The life appealed to him. He revelled in the infinite variety of types which humanity assumed in those latitudes, and he enjoyed to the full the humorous and picturesque aspects of existence which every day presented themselves in some new and striking form. Moved by the instinct that eventually made him famous, he acquired the habit of scribbling descriptions of the variegated panorama on which, day by day, he was feasting his eyes.

He subsequently left the ranch and went gipsying through Central America. His stories show, as one of his most discerning critics points out, how the bizarre charm and the languorous beauty of the tropics fascinated him. How surely and deftly he writes of quaint towns, of exquisite senoritas dozing in hammocks, of dignified Spanish traders and shifty absconding criminals from the States, of picturesque comic-opera presidents of republics, and of gaudy generals with their mimicries! He was entertained in palaces and incarcerated in prisons; but it was all grist to his hungry mill. He wove all the comedies and tragedies of his life into the tales that he loved to tell.

The Art Of Seeing The Best In The Worst
Perhaps his most engaging qualities were his insights and courage. Some really desperate characters move across his pages. The reader shudders on making their acquaintance, but it is not long before he finds himself getting fond of them. O. Henry had a wonderful knack of discovering the gold that lay under the grime. His courage was simply invincible. He found himself in situations that would have broken the heart of any other man, but his gaiety never capitulated. He was dogged all his days by physical infirmity and broken health, but he maintained a buoyant spirit to the last. He died in a hospital; but even there, Arthur Clyne assures us, his twinkling humour declined to be eclipsed. When he lay on his deathbed, someone wished to turn down the light, knowing the end was near. "Don't put the light out," he murmured, cheerfully, "I'm afraid to go home in the dark," quoting the popular song that was, at the moment, all the rage. That was the man. "He felt," says Clyne, "and made us feel, the beauty of sacrifice, the value of honour, the virtue of truth, the sweetness of love, and the need of a great pity even as we smile."

O. Henry did more than any man of our time to remove the reproach that lay for so long upon the short story. The prejudice was as unjust as it was absurd. It is certain that, if there had been no short stories, there could never have been any long ones. Some of the most ponderous works of fiction are really volumes of short stories in disguise. Boccaccio in Italy, Marmontel in France, Hoffmann in Germany, Cervantes in Spain, and Dickens in England knew the art of constructing long stories out of short ones. When we reflect on the stories of "The Lost Sheep," "The Good Samaritan," "The Ten Virgins," "The Hidden Treasure," and "The Prodigal Son," we realise that short stories are among the choicest and most fruitful stories to which mortals have ever lent their ears. In this high art O. Henry was a pastmaster, and, for many years to come, no writer will attempt this attractive form of composition without studying, and to some extent emulating, his methods.

F W Boreham

Image: O. Henry

Friday, May 26, 2006

4 June: Boreham on John Motley

Triumph and Tragedy
It was on June 4, 1877, that under circumstances of special poignancy, John Lothrop Motley was laid to rest at Kensal Green. To spend an hour with the works of Motley, is to become saturated in the essential spirit of medieval chivalry. He would have graced a crusade or adorned the Round Table of King Arthur. There is a knightliness about him which makes the study of his personality and of this work particularly attractive. Lithe in carriage, graceful in movement, cheerful in demeanour, and courtly in bearing, few persons passed him on the street without turning to bestow the homage of a second glance upon so striking and picturesque a figure. His magnetic spell made him the natural centre of any company.

Captivated by the epic story of Pizarro's adventures among the Incas, he determined to make himself the historian of the Spanish conquest of Peru. Having, at infinite pains, gathered his materials and embarked upon his titanic task, he chanced to discover that W. H. Prescott, ignorant of his own dreams and researches, was applying his powers to a portrayal of the self-same period. Prescott was blind, or practically so, and his infirmity appealed to Motley's magnanimity. He immediately abandoned the enterprise, leaving to his afflicted rival the clear field of which he made such excellent use. Motley did this sort of thing, not laboriously or ostentatiously, but automatically and instinctively. He was a knight by nature. The most cultured spirits of his time prized above all things his companionship and confidence.

An Honour That Led To Disaster
It is a thousand pities that Motley ever emerged into the tumult of public life. He would certainly have lived much longer had he restricted himself to the academic seclusion to which his temperament was so perfectly suited. His spirit was too sensitive for the rough and tumble of politics. But America is a law unto herself in literary matters. It has often been said that England rewards her most brilliant writers by starving them. America kills them by kindness. She makes ambassadors of them. The work of Lowell, Bret Harte, and Bancroft was sadly hampered by this doubtful policy; and, in Motley's case, it proved disastrous. Motley was shipped off to Europe on his country's service. He won renown alike by his literary and his diplomatic work, enhancing immeasurably the prestige of the land that he loved. Yet, although he had done nothing worthy of censure, he spent his last days in misery, and died under a cloud.

It is one of those confusing episodes in history that it is difficult to understand. Motley was Ambassador in London at the time, and was in every way adding lustre to the office. A rumour gained ground that his recall was contemplated. When it reached the Ambassador's ears, he scouted the idea as preposterous. When Grant was a candidate for the Presidency, Motley lent him his powerful support, and, naturally enough, he scouted the notion that he had anything to fear from White House. For some reason that has never been satisfactorily set out, however, Grant dismissed him, and did it in such a way that Motley felt himself to be publicly humiliated and disgraced. The blow was a shattering one; Motley never held up his head again. Seeking the seclusion of his study, he wrote his last book; as he finished it, his wife died. Motley's heart was broken.

The Splendour Of A Clouded Sunset
On a beautiful evening in the early Summer of 1877, enfolded by that lovely Wessex country that Thomas Hardy was rapidly endearing to all his readers, Motley passed away at the age of 62. Born at one Dorchester, he died at another; the Atlantic rolling between the two. As he made his lonely way down into the valley of the shadow, one golden text illuminated his mind and he ordered it to be inscribed upon his tomb: "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." Only those who, with sympathetic penetration, have entered into the anguish and heartbreak of his closing days, can appreciate the solace that the glittering words poured into his tortured soul. Earth, to Motley, was enshrouded in a leaden gloom; everything that he had loved, admired, and trusted had disappointed him. Life, in all its ramifications, seemed an insoluble enigma. Death stared him in the face. And beyond? Beyond was a radiant realm in which, he felt the issues that had baffled him would stand crystal clear. He was passing from a tangled maze of inscrutable mystery into a realm of perfect clarity. "God," he exclaimed, as he lay dying, "is light! Write that upon my tomb: just that and nothing else, save, perhaps, the name and date. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."

His fame is perpetuated by two really splendid monuments. The first is his masterpiece, "The Rise of the Dutch Republic." Printed at his own cost because no publisher would look at it, this stately odyssey has captured a place among our classics from which it can never be ejected. The second of these monuments is the fine apostrophe addressed to his memory by William Cullen Bryant, one of the last verses that trickled from that poet's pen:

Sleep, Motley, with the great of ancient days,
Who wrote for all the years
that yet shall be!
Sleep with Herodotus, whose name and praise
reached the isles of earth's remotest sea!

With these satisfying lines we may very well take leave of one of the most engaging figures that has ever adorned the Western Hemisphere.

F W Boreham

Image: John Motley

Thursday, May 25, 2006

3 June: Boreham on the Census

Counting Heads
Once more the time has come for counting heads.[1] Nobody would seriously attempt to underrate the value and importance of the census; yet nobody can reflect upon it without feeling that it is, of necessity, a ridiculously superficial affair. It counts heads, but it is totally unable to weigh them. "There are," as George Gissing declares, "individuals who outweigh, in every kind of value, generations of ordinary people." Schiller, too, snaps his fingers at the census when he asks:

What are mere numbers? Numbers are but nonsense!
Wisdom is never found but with the few:
Votes should be rightly weighed, not only counted;
Sooner or later that State must go under
Where numbers rule and foolishness determines.

The pity of it is that the census is doomed to failure in one most important respect. It cannot tabulate the real wealth of the nation because it makes no attempt to assess our individual worth. Jack is as good as his master—physically, morally, and industrially. It is recorded of De Quincey that when, in 1851, the officer in charge of the census called upon him for his paper he was at a loss as to how the required particulars should be given. Where was he to sign? What was his occupation? At length, he inscribed his own name and entered himself as a "writer to the magazines," but when he came to the occupations of his family he was completely floored. What could the avocations of his three daughters be said to be? Finally, in sheer desperation, he seized a pen, and, putting a bracket round the three names, wrote against them: "These are like the lilies of the field: they toil not, neither do they spin."

The Personal Equation Overshadowed
But of this aspect of the case the census takes no cognisance. The personal equation does not fall within its province. With the callous indifference of a mathematical machine, it heartlessly ignores the individual factor. The honoured grandfather who, when last the census was taken, beamed with pride as he saw his name inscribed at the very top of the form, is represented now only by a vacant armchair in the corner, and by a picture on the wall. But, as against this, the prattle and laughter of a little child is starting all the echoes of the place; he was not here when the official count was last made: his name makes its initial appearance on the national records. The number is the same and, after all, that is the only thing with which the census is concerned.

We wandered in the village, Tom,
And sat beneath the tree
Upon the schoolhouse playing-ground
That sheltered you and me,
But none were there to greet me, Tom,
And few are left to know,
Who played with us upon the green
Just twenty years ago.

But other boys are there: what does it matter? The figures look just as well in the returns!

In one sense, imposing statistics are a snare and a delusion. In a small state, each citizen recognises how much depends upon his individual fidelity: in a vast empire each man is tempted to underestimate the importance of his own exertion and to lean upon the crowd. Moreover, since the temptation occurs with equal force to each, the danger is likely to be alarmingly widespread: and a sensible reduction of the average value may easily and imperceptibly take place. Fortunately, another law comes into play, which operates in a diametrically opposite direction. With the increase in population, internal competition becomes keener, and the necessity of keeping abreast of one's rivals tends to maintain the average ability at a certain standard. Both processes emphasise, each in its own way, the fact that a nation's greatest asset lies in the fibre and quality of its manhood: but this is the factor that escapes classification.

The Units That Will Not Aggregate
The census is a valiant attempt to compass the impossible. There are things that, differing fundamentally in their very nature, cannot be added together. Some time ago, with seven judges on the bench, an important insurance case was being argued in London. The evidence consisted of a welter of statistics. Whilst a mass of figures was being read, Lord Craighill quietly intervened with the disconcerting remark: "But two and two, you know, do not always make four!" Everybody stared in incredulous astonishment; but the situation was at length relieved by Lord Madaren. "There must," he said, "be a certain unity and conformity between the first two and the second two: you could scarcely say that two candles and two tons of coal make four!" The air was cleared. And the point is pertinent today. If you cannot add candles to coal, you cannot add patriotism to perfidy, you cannot add John to Judas. The staggering discovery that the Church made was that eleven and one do not make twelve.

The truth has never been more tellingly stated than in the Parable of the Talents. The merchant, before setting out on his journey, committed to three of his agents eight talents with which to trade. On his return, they handed him fifteen. Presented in that way, the situation seems extremely satisfactory and the three agents appear to deserve the highest commendation. But the parable is not presented in those terms. The totals—three and eight and fifteen—are never mentioned. To one agent the merchant entrusted five talents: to another two, and to another one. From the first he received ten on the day of reckoning: from the second four, and from the third only the solitary talent that had been confided to his care. He therefore applauded the first and second, condemning the third. The parable is given to demonstrate the futility of totals. Service and sloth can no more be added together than coal and candles or John and Judas.

F W Boreham

Image: A relief on the taking of the census; circa end 2nd century from Campus Martius, Rome. Paris, Louvre Museum.

[1] This editorial about the census appears in the Hobart Mercury on June 28, 1947.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

2 June: Boreham on Thomas Hardy

A Painter in Sombre Shades
Thomas Hardy, whose birthday anniversary this happens to be, deserves to be remembered as the last of the great Victorians. Of his genius there can be no shadow of doubt; his fiercest critics would hesitate to deny him a place of honour in the pantheon of English letters. In the temple of fame he occupies a niche peculiarly his own, and it is not altogether an enviable one. In his passionate love of colour, in his remarkable faculty for vivid and realistic description, in his vigorous and confident delineation of the most complex characters, in his pitiless analysis of human passions, impulses, and emotions, and in his faithful reflection of the droll humour and poignant tragedy of the countryside, Hardy stands almost without a rival.

Yet, for all that, he was an incorrigible pessimist. He knew it and even gloried in it. It was an essential ingredient in his art. With Puck-like perversity he revelled making us all miserable; and, regarding our wretchedness as his crown triumph, he clapped his hands in glee as he witnessed our distress. To make matters worse, he figured as a pessimist in an age that had little or no sympathy with pessimism. Byron, born half a century earlier, was a pessimist ; but the temper of the time was such that Byron's pessimism became phenomenally popular. Every depressing word that fell from his languishing lips awoke an immediate and almost universal response. The whole world wept deliciously when Byron disconsolately wailed. But times change, and, in this case, they changed for the better. In Hardy's day, optimism walked in golden slippers, courted by princes, chanted by poets, and applauded by the populace. Pessimism, dejected and forlorn, shivered at the corner of the market-place, an object of general abhorrence and contumely. And the extraordinary achievement of Thomas Hardy is represented by the fact that, in an age so completely alienated from the chilly pessimism that all his works express, he won for himself an indulgent hearing and a deathless renown.

Were Poet's Eyes Turned In Wrong Direction?
Like all men who find themselves at war with the universe, Thomas Hardy was the greatest sufferer from his own acerbity. His dismal outlook made it impossible for more cheerful or more robust spirits to understand him. Mr. G. K. Chesterton, for example, had no patience with him. In those days, most people linked the name of Thomas Hardy with that of George Meredith. Chesterton would not hear of it. "It is due to Meredith," he writes, "to say that no one outside a few of the great Greeks has ever interpreted Nature as naturally as he did; and it is just as true to say that no one outside a lunatic asylum has ever interpreted Nature as unnaturally as Thomas Hardy has done." Hardy, Chesterton declares, went down to botanise in the swamp while Meredith climbed towards the sun.

How are we to account for Hardy's unconquerable gloom? In his "Makers of Modern Fiction," Mr. W. J. Dawson attributes it to the solitude of country life. Hardy spent all his days in a spot so secluded that even the villagers could scarcely find their way across the meadows to the hermit's home. He brooded too much; lived too much with his own thoughts; and yielded too readily to the tendency to morbid introspection. The man who leads a broad, busy, adventurous life Mr. Dawson points out, is seldom given to pessimism. But Hardy's lonely mind was far too long turned in upon itself; it lost the perspective of reality, things appeared to him out of their just proportion, he became splenetic and morose. Mr. Dawson thinks that if, like Shakespeare, Hardy had left the hamlet and lived for a few years in the city, he would have been a happier man and a more finished artist.

A Masterly Painter Of The Rural Scene
Still, while grey was Hardy's favourite tint, he did occasionally splash upon his splendid canvas with brighter hues. We have a few rainbows of his making, a few hints of the gorgeous things that might have been. As long as the language lasts, or at least as long as the stately Victorian novelists continue to charm, men will admire Thomas Hardy as a most excellent storyteller; they will delight in his quiet and unaffected style; they will exult in the sure touch with which he reproduces the tranquil spirit of the English lane, the English moor and the English woods; and they will revel in his skilful delineation of uncouth and uncultured country characters. Mr. John Masefield, the Poet Laureate, says that Hardy is the strange, vital repository of the old traditions, legends, and memories of the singular but sturdy personalities that walked the green fields of the English counties for five generations.

Mr. Masefield is no less enamoured of Hardy's verse. "Hardy's poetry," he affirms, "has meant a great deal to the younger singers of today. He stands as the most powerful influence for good in the shaping of English poetry since the days of Robert Browning. He brought to his writing an extraordinary knowledge of the countryside and its past; and, at the same time, he invented more methods of writing verse than any other member of the brave company of English poets." Coming from a Poet Laureate, this is eloquent and noble praise. Moreover, in addition to all that can be said about his work, both in prose and in verse, there remains the indisputable circumstance that Hardy possessed a personality that captivated men of strangely different types. Lawrence of Arabia delighted in his company; so did the Duke of Windsor; and so, too, did some of the most eminent statesmen and artists of his time. Yet nobody loved him more than the ploughmen, shepherds, waggoners, and village folk of that Wessex woodland that he has so vividly portrayed and amidst which his entire life was spent. Because of this, it was conceded that while in accordance with a popular demand, his body was to rest with the illustrious dead in Westminster Abbey, his heart should be interred in the tiny churchyard that, in life was so familiar to him.

F W Boreham

Image: Thomas Hardy

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

1 June: Boreham on John Masefield

The Poetry of Reality
This is the birthday of John Masefield. His poetry is the articulation of youth. He is essentially an original: he is always himself; he sees things as nobody else sees them, and he sings them in melodious strains that could have been born in no soul but his. We may have had greater laureates—it is too soon as yet to compare him with his most illustrious predecessors—but we have never had one with a personality more striking or a note more distinctive. At times he takes your breath away; you have to lower the book to your lap every now and again to let the beating of your heart slow down. His work, that is to say, is characteristic of him. Mr. Masefield lives, moves and has his being in a realm of thrills. His career is a surge of romance. He was a born sailor. Indeed, he was made a poet, not by the culture of the schools, but by the rough and tumble of a maritime life.

At the age of 13 he ran away to sea. For two years he worked on a training ship, and then, for twelve months, he served before the mast. He loved the life, and, had he followed his inclination, would be living it still. When at sea, however, he heard another voice calling him back to the land. He was so much in love with the ocean and its ships that he felt an invincible desire to describe them so that others might see them through his eyes. It became a torment to him to enjoy it all to himself. He wanted all the world to see what he was seeing and to feel what he was feeling.

A Sailor Becomes The Songster Of The Sea
He resolved to go ashore, to take any position that offered and to spend his savings on books. It was with a heavy heart that he carried his seachest down the gangway, but his purpose shone clear. With a pound in his pocket he cast about for employment. He worked first on a farm; then in a bakery; then in a barroom; and lastly in a factory. It was a poor substitute for the open sea; but then he was earning money and buying books. Scanty as were his wages, he procured a new book every week. Proudly he bought Chaucer; then Keats and Shelley; and, a little later, Shakespeare, Swinburne, and Rossetti. As he laid each book down, he tried his own prentice hand. Each crude attempt encouraged within him the pleasing hope that, one great day, he himself might be a poet.

Masefield was only 23 when his first book was published. "Saltwater Ballads" has been aptly described as, "a collection of nautical poems in which pirates, buccaneers, and deck hands declare in their own tongue the wonders of sea and storm." The poems throb with the energy and excitement of youth. The world liked them. Having struck his trail, the young poet followed its course with a confident and buoyant stride. In each of the books that flowed in quick succession from his pen, Masefield makes you feel that he enjoys life in all its phases and that he dearly loves to tell you all about it. He is the poet of stark fact. Wordsworth is not more fond than he is of nightingales and daffodils; but Masefield is at his best in delineating the less idyllic and more prosaic aspects of existence. Whether in the physical or moral realm, he revels in things virile and terrific. He glories in strong winds, strong ships, strong men, and even in strong language. Some of Masefield's lines are like nothing else on earth. After reading a typical page, you seem to have been watching a drunkard riding home, but the drunkard sings as he staggers and Masefield catches the lilt of his song. He has been charged with coarseness and brutality; but this, as Mr. Anthony Clyne has pointed out, arises from a misinterpretation of his temperament. His strange oaths, blatant phrases and harsh rhymes arise from the poet's sensitiveness to the beauty of reality. To him there is nothing so artistic as life in the raw.

Setting Life's Unloveliness To Music
Masefield touches the repulsive things of life; but he touches them in such a way that he makes them appear repulsive. Vice, in his pages, is always hideous; goodness is always charming. And, then, in "The Everlasting Mercy," he strikes a still deeper and more positive note. Like all his poems, it is a song of adventure. But, in this case, the adventure is a spiritual adventure; the romance is the romance of the soul. "It is," as Sir Edmund Gosse declared, "a poem which would make memorable any year in recent literary history. It is a narrative of conversion; a story of the light of God breaking through the cracks which pain and shame have made. As we read, we feel the mysterious pulse of humanity beating and throbbing all around us." Sir W. R. Nicoll described it as one of the most arresting conversion stories ever written. In 1912 the Academy Committee of the Royal Society of Literature awarded the poem, the Edmond de Polignac prize of £100.

The poem is the dramatic personal history of Saul Kane, a desperate and abandoned profligate; and it is told in his own wild, yet strangely eloquent, speech. Here again the contradictory genius of John Masefield reveals itself. The introductory section of the poem begins with a blood-curdling description of Kane's youth:—

From '41 to '51,
I was my folks' contrary son;
I bit my father's hand
right through
And broke my mother's heart in two.

And This Is How The Section Closes:

I cursed; 'twould make a man turn pale;
And nineteen times I went to
Now, friends, observe, and look upon me
Hark how the Lord took pity
on me.

That is his point. He does not shock us for the sheer sake of shocking us. He does not glory in his shame. It is, as Mr. Sturgeon points out, a revelation of the way in which a human soul, rising from bestiality, can obtain a joyous perception of the real meaning of life. In "The Everlasting Mercy," John Masefield is at his best and at his worst; but nobody will read either that or any of his verses without rejoicing that a singer of such natural gifts and evident distinction has won academic recognition in an age in which so many minstrels go uncrowned.

F W Boreham

Image: John Masefield

Monday, May 22, 2006

31 May: Boreham on Walt Whitman

Garlick and Capsicum
Walt Whitman, whose birthday this is, represents the most distinctive literary character that America has produced. The man himself has a strange fascination for us. We may not like him, but we can neither ignore nor forget him. He is the most uncompromising egotist in American history, and that is saying a good deal. He insisted on living life in his own way, and, in his stern determination to be master of his own fate and captain of his own soul, he was too much inclined to ride roughshod over the social standards of his time and over the sensibilities and susceptibilities of those about him. If Walt Whitman took it into his head to do a thing, he did it, never troubling to ask what other people might think. What cared he for the tyranny conventions? He would stop any man in the street and engage him in conversation if they looked sufficiently interesting. On the contrary, he would continue a conversation with no man, however exalted his rank, after it had ceased to be attractive to him.

He figures in history as one of our outstanding originals. He snapped his contemptuous fingers at everything in the shape of precedent: he revered no tradition. He made up his mind to write his own poetry in his own way. It was nothing to him that his way was vastly different from Longfellow's way or Whittier's way or Lowell's way. These men modelled themselves on the great masters. They observed the recognised English standards and followed the classical English tradition. To all intents and purposes they were English poets. With all this, Whitman had no quarrel. They were free to do as they pleased. But so, he urged, was he. Whether the world smiled or scowled, Whitman expressed convictions that had never before been voiced in a style with which men were entirely unfamiliar.

Fitting An Odd Piece Into The Social Mosaic
Men of this stamp make enemies but they also make friends. So long as they are scrupulously honest and transparently sincere, there is something about their very oddities and whimsicalities that compels a certain quality of wondering admiration. Those who knew Whitman intimately worshipped the very ground he trod. His very appearance carried with it a subtle fascination. At one period of his life his features were so fine that Mr. Gilchrist declared that his face was the only satisfying model for a painting of Christ that the artists of his time had seen. Later on, he grew heavy and a trifle stout, but even then his figure was so striking that anyone meeting him on the street would turn instinctively to indulge a second glance. He was tall, massive, grey-haired, grey-bearded, with clear blue eyes and slow, swinging, unconventional gait, dressed in a plain grey suit and a quaint slouch hat, and exhibiting a marked disposition to nod, smile or talk to anyone on the slightest provocation.

His variegated career was as amazing as his gnarled personality. He was determined to do, strictly in his own way, the work that he had been sent into the world to perform. The trouble was that for some time he found it by no means easy to discover the precise role for which he had been specially equipped. In his anxiety to determine his mission, he groped blindly about him for several years. He began as an errand boy in a lawyer's office, but his propensity for literature rendered him impatient of ordinary routine, and, in order to get a little nearer to the haven of his fond desire, he jumped at the chance of becoming a printer's devil. Assisted by the lightning progress and mushroom development for which America was in those days remarkable, he quickly became the editor of a popular magazine. He gave up journalism in disgust, however, becoming a carpenter and builder.

A Pioneer Of Stark Naturalness
Dabbling in many callings and becoming a veritable jack-of-all-trades, he eventually dropped them all in order to immerse himself in the hazards and excitements of the Civil War. To one ideal, however, he remained constant throughout. Whether engaged in civil or military duties, he was secretly devoting every leisure moment to the authorship of those turgid and billowy verses, which, remaining for so long unpublished, and then remaining for so long unnoticed, eventually came to be regarded as an integral and valuable part of his country's literary heritage. Walt Whitman's poems are simply Walt Whitman on paper. He was a genius, but he was a riotous genius, and his stanzas are the exuberant overflow of his intellectual intoxication. He stands in American poetry where Carlyle stood in English prose. He is a literary hurricane. His contemporaries stood bewildered. Lowell, Longfellow, and Oliver Wendell Holmes met one day, and, in the course of the chat, Whitman's name was mentioned. Lowell confessed that he could see nothing at all in Whitman's outpourings. Longfellow thought that a decent education might have made all the difference. Holmes stated his view piquantly. Some chefs he said, added to their concoctions the faintest suspicion of garlick or capsicum. Whitman drenched every dish with those pungent flavourings and spoiled everything in the process.

Such opinions represent the ripest judgment of his time—and of our time. Walt Whitman can never be a popular or a classical poet. His massive personality, his rugged originality, his passionate love of every phase of humanity, and his downright goodness of heart, make an irresistible appeal to us. But this does not entitle him to a throne among the immortals; and the most that can be said for him is that his audacious example nerved a younger generation of poets, shaking themselves free of the trammels of established precedent, and flinging aside the shackles of hoary tradition, to express themselves tunefully and effectively in the way most befitting their distinctive personalities.

F W Boreham

Image: Walt Whitman

Sunday, May 21, 2006

30 May: Boreham on Alexander Pope

Lord of the Grotto
We come today to the anniversary of the death of Alexander Pope. The outstanding thing about Pope is that he is a litterateur to the fingertips. It never seriously occurred to him to be anything but an author. As a little child—round, plump, pretty but terribly frail—he dreamed of becoming a celebrated poet. As a small boy he would creep into the London coffee-houses that he might gaze in adoring silence upon the most eminent figures in the literary life of his day. He cherished no prouder ambition than the hope that he might, one great day, gather such an illustrious company round him, and, although he died comparatively young, he lived to see his fond wish gloriously fulfilled.

It was Pope who demonstrated for the first time that it is possible for a poor man to make literature an honourable and remunerative profession. He owed nothing to wire-pulling and nothing to patronage. Macaulay points out that, in an age in which it was customary to place a literary enterprise beyond the peril of financial disaster by dedicating it to some person of wealth and title, Pope insisted on compelling his productions to win their own way and fight their own battles. He was almost quixotic in his stubborn refusal to ride to success on any other man's shoulders.

A Singer To Whom Nature Proved Unkind
Yet nobody ever fell in love with Pope; certainly no woman ever did. It may be that, had he succeeded in winning the confidence of one good woman, his life would have been purged of those sinister and repulsive traits by which it was so terribly disfigured. But nothing of the kind ever happened, and, indeed it is difficult to see how it could. Pope treated womanhood with a set sneer. His attitude towards the women was frankly contemptuous and almost brutal. He believed every woman to be a rake at heart. It may be that a deeper sentiment—a sentiment of self pity accounted in some degree for this ugly mentality. Pope was intensely conscious of his own deformities. From his father he inherited a figure that was not only stunted but crooked, disproportionate, and unsightly. He felt himself to be physically contemptible and he would mutter sardonic curses on his crazy carcase. A bundle of aches and pains, he expressed his gratitude to his poetry for helping him through that long disease, his life.

He was a pitiful figure. Trussed up in heavy corsets to support his rickety frame, and wearing several pairs of stockings to make his spindly legs presentable, he was so dwarfish that he had to sit on a high chair at his own table, and to be mounted on cushions at the tables of his friends.

He fancied that because of all this, women scorned him, and he secretly loathed them for it. Such feelings soured his spirit and betrayed him into an attitude towards womanhood that stands as one of the most painful defects in his work. With men he was little better. His deformity rendered him extremely sensitive. If anybody tittered, he thought instantly of the hump on his back and assumed that his ugliness was the theme of the jest. He felt, and felt acutely, that his malformation had excluded him from the fuller life that other men led, and, to save his face, he boasted loudly of imaginary amours and exploits of gallantry like those of which he so often heard. According to his own preposterous story, he was a perfect Lothario, one of the gayest young dogs about town!

Creator Of Liltinq Lines And Pearl-like Phrases
Cultivating this unhappy outlook upon life, Pope became a notorious fop, absurdly self-conscious, absurdly vain, and absurdly insincere. His mind was full of suspicion, his manner full of affectation, his voice a perpetual falsetto. Every movement was stilted, every attitude a pose. Lady Bolingbroke said that he hardly drank tea without a stratagem, and that, in discussing cabbages and turnips, he aped the style of statesmen who debated the fate of empires. His famous grotto, in which he sat with Bathurst and Peterborough, was an expression of his shallow showmanship. It was a weird cavern, so constructed that, when the doors were shut, the mirrors round the walls converted it into a camera obscura, reflecting hills, rivers and boats. When lighted up at night, it glittered with rays produced by the fragments of looking-glass that twinkled everywhere.

Yet, in spite of all this grotesque grimacing, and of all these unlikeable idiosyncrasies, Alexander Pope did work that set him among the immortals. The "Essay on Man" can never die. In conception he was sometimes commonplace, but in execution he was almost sublime. He was a pastmaster in the art of throwing a very ordinary idea into a most elegant and exquisite couplet. Dr. Johnson and Lord Balfour regarded as the most perfect phrase in English poesy, the line in which Pope describes the way in which life's difficulties multiply as we progress—"hills peep o'er hills and steps on steps arise!" Dr. Compton Ricket declares that no poet, not even Shakespeare, has enriched our language with so many succinct and beautiful phrases. Byron gave him a foremost place among our greatest writers and sternly refused to recognise either Shakespeare or Milton as his superior. Few of our present-day critics will be prepared to accord to Pope so exalted a pedestal, but everybody will agree that in view of the frightful handicaps under which he laboured, he has established a phenomenal record and has earned lasting admiration, gratitude, and esteem.

F W Boreham

Image: Alexander Pope

Saturday, May 20, 2006

29 May: Boreham on G K Chesterton

The Wake of a Hurricane
It is interesting to inquire on this, the anniversary of his birth, as to the effect of the years on the enormous vogue of G. K. Chesterton. A cyclonic disturbance swept the purlieus of Fleet Street when Mr. Chesterton's immense shadow was first cast upon those classical pavements. Then, for a few memorable years, his titanic personality dominated the entire situation. No figure in London was more readily recognised than his. Even those who had not actually gazed upon his gigantic form, or heard the reverberating thunders of his stentorian voice, seemed strangely familiar with the features of which they had read so much.

In contemplating his work and his renown at this distance, one circumstance strikes us as extraordinary. Chesterton died at 62. It is an age at which many eminent litterateurs have left us. But if, in the case of almost any other man, the 62 years be divided into two periods of 31 years each, we see at a glance that the first period was a period of preparation, whilst the second was the period of achievement. With Mr. Chesterton it was quite otherwise. His most brilliant work was executed whilst the dew of his youth was still upon him. In the second half of his life he produced no volumes more startling, more original or more provocative than those which he published in the early days of his career. He was a veritable whirlwind. He broke upon a gasping world with almost terrifying abruptness. He electrified his generation. He seemed to have entered violently the sedate precincts of London journalism without having rung the bell, knocked at the door, or given any other signal of his approach. He established his great fame so swiftly that, whilst he was still in the twenties and thirties, books were being written about him.

The Mingling Of Comedy And Prophecy
During those amazing and youthful years Chesterton seemed to produce his sparkling and scintillating volumes by some occult system of legerdemain. They sprang up at his command as if by magic. He waved his hand, and there they were! They were no trouble to him. He appeared to throw his massive form upon his bed at midnight, and, when he rose in the morning, the finished manuscript lay waiting for him on his dressing table. Each, in its turn seemed to eclipse and outshine all its predecessors. Each, in its turn, set everybody laughing, set everybody thinking, and set everybody quoting. Few writers were more impressive, for he made everybody feel that, with all his intellectual acrobatics, with all his passion for paradox and with all his delicious nonsense, he was in deadly earnest. If, on the other hand, he was a clever clown, he was, on the other, an inspired prophet.

His vogue was tremendous. When, in those days, a man received from his bookseller the copy of his favourite magazine, they began its perusal by glancing at the index to see if it contained anything from the pen of Mr. Chesterton. If it did, everything else had to wait until the galvanic thrills of those magnetic pages had been enjoyed to the full. Chesterton's palpitating paragraphs were certain to be packed with haunting epigrams, glittering self contradictions, daring witticisms, droll and pungent humour, shrewd philosophy, acute criticism and quaint observations concerning everything and everybody. For Chesterton was always Chesterton. In his "Prophets, Priests, and Kings," A. G. Gardiner refers to him as one of the most mountainous objects on the horizon of that time. Towering like a colossus against the skyline of his period, he, in more senses than one, dwarfed all his colleagues and contemporaries. Those who applauded him, those who differed from him, and those who, dazzled by the confusing glare of his luminous genius, could make neither head nor tail of him, all agreed that, whatever he was and whatever he was not, he was at any rate a superlative oddity, a dynamic authority and a despotic personality.

Personality The Explanation Of His Products
Chesterton was big enough to think his own thoughts, and it was in his nature, having thought them, to like them. They were his children, born of his own brain, and he looked upon them with the affection and pride of a doting parent. He revelled in pushing them to the front, in attracting attention to their virtues and in seeing them secure the recognition that they deserved. He really loved them; regarded them as bone of his bone, and was ready, if need be, to die in their defence. He poured the vital essence of his own being, the hissing tincture of his own personality, into every syllable that he penned. Herein lies the secret. It may be argued that the work of an author, and his work alone, will determine his place in the ultimate judgment of mankind, he himself remaining an invisible and inconsiderable nonentity. Chesterton's record proves that the man and his work are indivisible.

Like Pitt and Macaulay, he never grew. All three were at their golden best at 25; neither lost the intellectual splendour that he then commanded: but neither made the slightest advance upon it. In the course of the years, Chesterton gave us books that were as good as his prentice efforts: but he gave us none better. With characteristic shrewdness and sagacity, he lapsed into silence for long periods. He liked to write, not because he had to say something, but because he had something to say. He held that it is far better for a man to lay down his pen while there is still a drop of ink on the nib than to go on scratching long after the point has become dry. With prophetic insight, he detected a shining sublimity in the drabbest commonplace.

Such men, as Blake would say, see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of their hand and eternity in an hour. Men of such virility, and of such vision, are not soon forgotten.

F W Boreham

Image: G K Chesteron

Friday, May 19, 2006

28 May: Boreham on Thomas Moore

The Songs of Ireland
It is scarcely too much to say that Robert Burns is no more esteemed in the land of brown heath and shaggy wood than is Thomas Moore (the anniversary of whose birth we mark today) among the castles and cabins of Galway, Cork, and Tipperary. When in 1788, Australia was born, a small boy of nine was getting into all sorts of mischief in a grocer's shop in Dublin. Yet, by some occult magic of his own, he captivated the hearts of all who were in any way brought into contact with him. Of unusually attractive face and figure, overflowing with boisterous vivacity and animal spirits, endowed with a beautiful voice and a sparkling wit, he made friends everywhere. As an elocutionist he was the pride of his school. He could sing so gaily and so movingly that he was the idol of every Irish audience that could coax him to its platform; and, young as he was, his brain was so jingling with tuneful rhymes that, in odd moments, he caught himself scribbling amatory verses of a kind that, in after years, won for him such wide renown.

The lure of his magnetic personality became stronger and stronger as the years rolled by. Just as his tousle-headed, laughing-eyed, merry-voiced boyishness had fascinated the companions of his infancy, so, all through life, he drew and held the ardent and admiring devotion of all who met him. He charmed everybody—Irish and English, young and old, high and low, rich and poor—by look, a smile, a jest, a song, or even by his mere entrance into the room. Like Father O'Flynn, he had a way with him. He was only twenty when he crossed the Irish Sea and greatly daring, made his way to London. Chatteron had recently gone to London and London had crucified him. But it crowned Moore. All doors swung open.

Songs That Turned To Glory And Gold
He became the lion of every drawing-room. By singing one of his own songs he could, according to his whim, convulse any company with laughter or move it to tears. He bound to himself with hoops of steel every new acquaintance, lordly or lowly. Everybody loved him. When, for example, his landlady discovered that he was only prevented from publishing his songs because of the expense, the good woman not only invited him to live rent free, beneath her roof, but placed the whole of her hard earned savings at his command. Happily, no need for such sacrifice arose. The Prince of Wales, afterwards King George the Fourth, cheerfully agreed to the dedication of the poems to his regal self, and, from that moment, their success was assured. Those who had listened to his songs were eager to possess them; those who had only heard of their sweetness, delicacy, and beauty were anxious to read for themselves the lines that had proved so potent and affecting.

In a surprisingly short time the young poet was in a position to demand for his dainty stanzas amounts such as had never been paid for compositions of the kind. For a quarter of a century he received a hundred guineas for each new melody. Publishers, realising the demand, were too hungry for the manuscripts to boggle at the price. In kitchens and in clubrooms, in taverns and in palace halls, Moore's exquisite little ditties were hummed and whistled and crooned and sung. "The Last Rose of Summer," "The Minstrel Boy," "Oft in the Stilly Night," "The Harp that Once," "Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms," and the Canadian Boat-song wove themselves into the very warp and woof of the nation's life.

Unspoiled By Success; Unsoured By Calamity
Nor does his work consist exclusively of pretty snippets. He sometimes spread his wings for far more imposing flights. In "Lalla Rookh," a gorgeous Oriental fantasy, his lyre struck a singularly pure and exalted note. He tells how the banished Peri sought admission at the gate of Paradise. He was told that his only chance was to find on earth, and present at the golden portal, the gift that heaven most coveted. But what was that gift? He brought the last drop of a hero's blood, the last sigh of a dying lover, and other offerings equally sacred. Each was rejected. But when he brought the tear of a penitent, the shining gates flew open on the instant.

Moore gave us, too, one of our noblest interpretations of the universe in which we live:—

Thou art, O God, the life and light
Of all this wondrous world we see;
glow by day, its smile by night,
Are but reflections caught from
Where'er we turn Thy glories
And all things fair and
bright are Thine.

To his everlasting credit it must be recorded that, notwithstanding his essentially emotional temperament, his exaltation did not turn his brain. He remained perfectly modest and self-possessed; he developed no affectations nor artificialities; he assumed no airs. Among the choicest products of his clever pen are his delightful letters to his mother. Amid all his social and literary triumphs, he never for a moment forgot the assistance and encouragement that she, worshipping the very ground he trod, had given him when, as a boy, he made his first crude efforts at poesy. All his communications to her are couched in terms of the warmest gratitude and the deepest affection. In one of them, penned about the time of his coming of age, he tells her that he is feeling just a little tired of duchesses and marchionesses, and that he often longs to share with her a good old fashioned dinner of salt fish and Irish stew. Unhappily, his later years brought heavy financial worries; his mind became a total wreck; his tongue lost its old lilt. Yet he stands as one of the most lovable figures in our annals, and our literature would be very much the poorer if his work were subtracted from it.

F W Boreham

Image: Thomas Moore

Thursday, May 18, 2006

27 May: Boreham on Henry Parkes

The Father of Federation
One fact dominated the career of Sir Henry Parkes, the anniversary of whose death we mark today. The person who ignores that vital fact will find it impossible to appreciate justly the character, or to assess accurately the influence, of the Father of our Australian Federation. That fact is that Henry Parkes enjoyed little or nothing in the way of education. He was sent to work in the fields when he was eight. To have achieved first class statesmanship in defiance of so cruel a handicap augurs the possession of intellectual qualities of the finest texture.

And, as a matter of fact, those outstanding powers early betrayed themselves. When devouring his modest dinner of bread and cheese under the shadow of a haystack in that West of England countryside, the farm boy would make some penetrating observation concerning public affairs. His companions would exchange knowing glances, and, as soon as the boy was out of hearing, would remark that young Harry Parkes had a head on his shoulders. He certainly had. But it lacked training.

To the end of his days he never quite forgave the forces that involved him in this inexorable deprivation. One of the most moving passages in the autobiographical writings of any public man is the record of the emotions with which, in his old age, Sir Henry Parkes read the "Life of Gladstone," instituting a comparison between that illustrious statesman's career and his own.

Whilst Gladstone was at Eton, enjoying all the advantages of a first-class education, preparing himself for Oxford with plenty of money and the most efficient training, Parkes was working on a rope walk for fourpence a day, and was treated with such brutality that he was often knocked down with a crowbar, remaining for half an hour unconscious. And, when Gladstone was at Oxford, Parkes was breaking stones on the highway with scarcely enough clothing to protect him from the cold.

Inspiration Of A New Environment
Such searing memories excite varied emotions. The Pessimist, looking first backward and then forward, says that what was good enough for him is good enough for his children. The Optimist vow that the young people under his charge shall never taste such bitterness as he himself has known. To his everlasting honour, Henry Parkes took the latter view. All through his life he argued that children should be given the finest education available at the lowest possible cost to themselves. The iron that entered his own soul as a youth, left a wound that never really healed.

At the height of his renown, his most impassioned flights of oratory were occasionally marked by misplaced aspirates, split infinitives, and unorthodox pronunciations. But nobody smiled. For everybody knew something of the tragedy and the pathos of his own brave struggle against overwhelming odds.

He was 24 when he reached the conviction that his prospects as an agricultural labourer, with neither wealth, education, nor social status, were not bright. England had nothing to offer him. What about Australia? He broached the daring project to his young wife. She agreed, and on July 25, 1839, they landed in Sydney. Sir Henry's first days in Australia were just about as wretched as his last days in England, and the only parenthesis in this monotony of misery was represented by a superlatively uncomfortable voyage on the emigrant ship that brought him from the hardships of the old world to the hardships of the new.

There were few auguries in those dismal days of the auspicious career that was to follow. During the rough and tumble of his early experiences in New South Wales, nothing so impressed him as the provincialism and parochialism of the various colonies, and it was while he was earning his living by manual labour that he conceived the ideal of a vast united and federated Commonwealth. He resolved, then and there, to devote his life to the realisation of that stately dream.

Dynamic Of A Lofty Ideal
The story of his public life is well known. There is no other instance in Australian history of a man bending his entire energies to one supreme end as whole-heartedly and unreservedly as did he. To the luminous and dominating idea that had so completely captivated his fancy, he consecrated the whole of his intellectual, oratorical, and literary equipment.

Critics with a supercilious air, pooh-poohed the scheme as Utopian, chimerical, impracticable, but he preached his doctrine, in season and out of season, with such tireless persistence and such audacious tenacity that he at length forced it into that fierce glare of public discussion which would allow of its being no longer regarded as the crotchet of a visionary. It then became the guiding star of his maturer statesmanship; and, directly or indirectly, everything else that he advocated was with the sole object of bringing him a little nearer to his ultimate goal.

Men of the calibre of Thomas Carlyle wrote to encourage him. He was quick to see that, isolated as the States were, one crimson thread, as he called it, bound them together. This consisted of their common loyalty to the Throne. He convinced himself that this mutual devotion represented a firm basis for his plea. He worked on through the years, sometimes applauded and sometimes derided, until in 1890, the famous Convention was held to give fulfilment to his dream.

During the last days, his old ears knew no sweeter music than to hear himself described as the Father of Australian Federation. He will always be remembered as a man who, beginning his life in extreme poverty and tending his life in extreme poverty, cherished through all the vicissitudes of his strange experience a lofty national ideal; making himself great by the dauntless persistence with which he pursued it.

F W Boreham

Image: Henry Parkes, appearing on Australia's five dollar note.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

26 May: Boreham on Samuel Pepys

A Wizard's Cauldron
On this, the anniversary of the death, in 1703, of Samuel Pepys, we remind ourselves that it was on May 31, 1669, that Pepys bade a sad farewell to his eyes and to his diary. He was 36 when the lost entry was penned: "And so I betake myself to that course which is almost as much as to see myself go into my grave, for which, and all the discomforts that will accompany my being blind, the good God prepare me."

The diary was not written for publication; about that there can be no doubt at all. The pains that Mr. Pepys took to make his entries in a mysterious cypher that he alone could interpret; the fact that the diary remained untranslated and unpublished until well into the 19th century; and the circumstance that the writer shamelessly records episodes and emotions that are altogether to his own discredit, drive us to the conclusion that as he entered up his journal, Mr. Pepys never for a moment envisaged a public scrutiny of his brutally candid folios.

It was George Grenville, Master of Magdalen College, Cambridge, who let the cat out of the bag. Grenville was impressed by the fact that Evelyn's famous diary contained numerous references to a Mr. Samuel Pepys. These passages piqued Grenville's curiosity. He discovered that stored away among the dusty lumber of the college library were the six manuscript volumes which represented the entire compilation of this self-same Samuel Pepys. They were indited in some mysterious system of shorthand of which nobody had any record; but Grenville handed them over to one John Smith, an undergraduate at St. John's College, who took a pride in elucidating just such mysteries.

As a result, the diary was published for the first time in 1825, more than a century and a half after that last pathetic entry had been penned.

The Inner Spirit Of History Presented
Considered as history, the diary is a perfect gold mine. It was not designed as history, yet, as Osmund Airy says, without it the history of the Court of Charles II could never have been written. Mr. Pepys tells us in his own quaint and individualistic style all that the sombre historians of that fascinating and eventful period should have told us, but didn't.

The historians tell us the things that bore us; Pepys tells us the things that we are really curious to know. Sir Walter Scott, who mastered the high art of presenting us with the essence of history under the guise of colourful romance, regarded Samuel Pepys as the ideal historian. No volumes ever written, Sir Walter insists, are so wonderfully rich.

Pepys' curiosity made him an unwearied as well as a universal learner, and all that he saw found its way into his pages. Thus, Sir Walter concludes, the diary of Samuel Pepys resembles the genial cauldrons of Comacho, a souse into which was thrown such an abundance and variety that the most fastidious appetite would be fully gratified.

In judging the diary it must be remembered that Pepys lived his eventful life in the most dissolute period of English history, and is unconsciously infected by the temper of the time. Moreover he was in immediate touch with, and under the direct authority of, the fountainhead of the general pollution. It would have been passing strange if, under such conditions, his pages had contracted no stain. It may reasonably be argued that the diary otherwise, would not have mirrored, as it now does, the heart throbs of the society in which its author moved.

Lord Ponsonby, who made the collection and examination of old diaries the occupation of all his leisure, declares that the least delicate entries in Pepys' are important as demonstrating his absolute honesty as a diarist, and in no way suggest any coarseness in his disposition. Considering the people he met daily and the things he saw daily, the marvel is, Lord Ponsonby avers, that there is so little in the diary to shock us.

His Bark Worse Than His Bite
It is a little unfortunate that so much stress has been laid on those passages that describe the sparks which flew when Samuel and his wife fell out. It is only because of the stark sincerity of the manuscript that such entries occur at all.

Let no man suppose that the pair lived a cat and dog life. Elizabeth St. Michel, the daughter of a Huguenot refugee, was only 15 when she married. She was surpassingly beautiful, and her young husband, who was 22, was inordinately proud of her. Five years after their marriage he takes her to a fashionable wedding at Goring House. The feast is adorned by the loveliest ladies in London, but in all that galaxy of beauty Mr. Pepys can see no face or form of his own Elizabeth. He may occasionally tweak her nose or box her ears, but he worships the ground she treads just the same. And a few years later he spends much time and money in having her portrait painted, first by Hales, and then by Cooper.

Our literature contains a few books that are solitary, distinctive, unique. Among these most exceptional works the diary of Samuel Pepys holds a conspicuous place. It is said that nobody has ever read Spenser's "Faerie Queen" or Cervantes' "Don Quixote" right through.The same is probably true of Pepys' diary, but we have all enjoyed it in small doses. It has been more often parodied than any other prose work, and parody is the pinnacle of compliment. Then, too, the whimsical little mannerisms of Mr. Pepys have crept into all our vocabularies. His "up betimes" and his "and so to bed" are echoed every day. His work fills a great place in our literature and in our lives, and the world would seem a strange place without it.

F W Boreham

Image: Samuel Pepys

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

25 May: Boreham on Ralph Waldo Emerson

Shadow and Substance
Today marks the birthday of Emerson. In some mysterious and occult way, men seem to perpetuate after death the spirit of their lives. The sociable men seem sociable still, and we find it difficult to persuade ourselves that we have not actually hobnobbed with them. The men who stood apart from their fellows still evade us, and we never come to feel at home with them.

Emerson is easily the most stand-offish figure in the republic of letters. Tall and spare, with unusually small head, strangely beaked nose and piercing grey blue eyes, he always seems to be hiding away in a quiet corner by himself. Although dignified and courteous, with rugged features and a kindly smile, he makes it plain that he wishes to be left severely alone. Beyond suspecting his personality of many charms, we never get to know him.

When he was travelling with his daughter in Egypt, they met an Englishman who, without even knowing their names, was most persistent in his attempts to show them kindness. But every approach met with a chilling rebuff. Without being actually rude, Emerson showed clearly that he wished to have nothing to do with the man.

When at length the Englishman left the hotel to continue his journey, he walked across to the couch on which Emerson was lounging and half apologised for his earlier overtures. "You may wonder," he said "that my having overstepped my usual reserve so far as to court your friendship; but I may explain that it is for the sake of an illustrious countryman of yours, one Ralph Waldo Emerson." I am deeply indebted to his writings and I would gladly cross the ocean for the honour of meeting him!" And, even then, Emerson never revealed his identity!

Seeking Without That Which Exists Within
Goldwin Smith describes Emerson as a cataract of pebbles; but while the phrase hits us with perfect precision the infinite succession of Emerson's exquisitely-rounded periods, it does less than justice to the galvanic energy with which each sentence is charged, and it fails to account for his immense vogue and wide authority.

Emerson, more than most writers, had his own way of looking at things. The question is: How did he acquire that strikingly-original outlook upon life? Was it from within or from without? For years two schools fought each other fiercely on this issue. The one contended that Emerson was a mere echo of German philosophy; the other argued that he derived all his sparkle and brilliance from Pascal and Montaigne. It goes without saying that this Franco-Prussian war on the fields of literary criticism, culminated in victory for neither side.

As against this, there are those who attribute much of the penetrating genius of Emerson to the fascination that the Orient always possessed for him. Mr. Percival Chubb likens him to a bowed worshipper of the dawn; he stands allied, Mr. Chubb maintains, with the brooding East; he is almost a Brahmin; his birth into the grossly materialistic atmosphere of the feverish and restless West is a geographical freak; and so on.

It is easy to weave such webs of fantasy. If somebody were to discover that a remote ancestor of John Milton was a negro, a score of discerning critics would instantly trace a distinctly African strain running through the immortal stanzas of "Paradise Lost"! Save for an odd quotation here and there, what critic would care to put his finger on the Indian element in Emerson?

There is, however, this about it. Whether or not he was affected by the brooding temper of the Orient, he at least imbibed the contemplative habit peculiar to the East. His actual thought was neither the thought of Germany nor of France nor of India; it was essentially and exclusively the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson; and he welcomed any circumstances or conditions that would help him to develop his own ideas in his own way.

Inspection Eclipsed by Introspection
He lived at Concord and loved it. Arthur Clough described Concord as a hole of a place, utterly destitute of attractions. To Emerson its unattractiveness was its supreme attraction. Possessing nothing to elicit his admiration or compel his attention, it left him free to turn his gaze inward. He reaped his reward and passed it on to a grateful world—

Because I was content with these poor fields,
Low open meads, slender and
sluggish streams
And found a home in haunts which others scorned,
partial Wood-gods overpaid my love
And granted men the freedom of their

With nothing about him for inspection, he abandoned himself to introspection. He explored the intricate recesses of his own mind, and, as a result of that mysterious quest, found the treasure that has enriched mankind.

There is, of course, a sense in which no writer is really original. Every man is a conglomerate compound of all that he has seen, heard, read or experienced. As Emerson himself teaches, "every ship that comes to America got its chart from Colombus; life is girt all round with a zodiac of sciences, the contributions of men who have perished to add their point of light to our sky."

Yet, when a liberal margin has been allowed for universal mimicry, one vital factor still confronts us. That vital factor is a man's own inherent individuality, his distinctive ego, his essential self. After all possible has been said about the German philosophers, the French essayists and the Oriental mystics, we have still to reckon with the flesh and blood personality of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The pity of it is that all the records leave that tantalising personality enshrouded in impenetrable mist. Because of Emerson's shyness and aloofness, the man eludes us. We catch glimpses of him as we catch glimpses of a shadow flitting here and there. But those who make the attempt will find even the shadow attractive, and they will return from their quest convinced that the substance that cast that shadow must have been a singularly magnetic one.

F W Boreham

Image: Ralph Waldo Emerson